3 Tips on Avoiding Probate

Avoiding probate is a hot topic in estate planning, because many people don't want the court to determine who ends up with their assets. It's true that a valid will can trump state laws, but there’s always the chance for a prolonged court battle between heirs and beneficiaries. In many states you have to pay probate taxes. Here are some tips to avoid the probate process altogether:

1. Give Gifts

As long as you stay under the annual dollar limits, you can give gifts without triggering estate taxes. For example, you can give up to $13,000 and the gift will no longer be probate property.

2. Create a Trust

Transferring assets to a trust is one of the more popular ways for avoiding probate. It is not considered probate property because it’s no longer in the decedent’s name or considered a part of the estate property.

3.  Hold Property as Joint Tenants

Some property is exempt from probate according to state laws, including those held as joint tenants with right of survivorship.  Ensure that your bank accounts and other accounts held at financial institutions are set up this way.

You can save your heirs money and headaches by avoiding probate. Consult with an estate planning attorney on these three and  other methods.

blog comments powered by Disqus